According to a report in the Los Angeles Times, ports in the Los Angeles area have posted unexpectedly strong growth in the end of 2010. Usually, cargo shipping begins to decline towards the end of a calendar year, and shipping has been hit particularly hard as a result of the recession and related crises, but this past November, the Los Angeles and Long Beach ports – already the busiest marine shipping facilities in the nation – actually saw a double-digit increase in traffic.

In Los Angeles, outbound shipping increased by 14 percent that month, and imports went up by 12%. Overall, business increased by an impressive 17% compared to last year. The numbers were even better in Long Beach, which saw imports rise by a fifth in November of 2010 relative to the same period of last year, and exports went up by a whopping 25 percent. To say that this is welcome news would be an understatement – the shipping industry is responsible for over half a million jobs in the L.A.-Long Beach region, and any protracted slump may have devastating consequences on the regional workforce.

There are a number of competing explanations for this surge, but one way or another, it almost certainly comes down to increased retail consumption in the holiday season. The New York Times reported stronger-than-expected consumer activity at the end of the year, as people eager to put the Great Recession behind them splurged on themselves and their loved ones. Since consumption is the great engine behind the American economy, the colorful package under the Christmas tree ends up being a present for the California auto transport and maritime shipping industries as well.